On June 6, 2010, I had the opportunity to attend the Annual Sodexo Foundation dinner, held in the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. It was my first experience with this dinner. It was also my first exposure to both the many great activities the Sodexo Foundation organizes, and those programs created by individuals throughout the United States. During the introductory presentations they shared interesting information about how the foundation got started and its vision for the future. This helped me gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the culture within Sodexo.
During the dinner, Sodexo management recognized the efforts of several individuals who developed programs in their local communities, helping feed the hungry. They shared the touching stories of how these children and adults decided to take action, and the incredible impact they had on others in need. They recognized six children, ages 5 to 19, who created special programs. It was inspiring to see these young individuals spending time to make life better for others. They were able to do so much with very few resources. These students did not set out to gain recognition, but it was wonderful to see them rewarded for their good work. The Sodexo Foundation made an impact in their lives with the awarding of a $5,000 Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship for the individual and a $5,000 matching grants for each of their hunger-related charities of choice.
The Heroes of Everyday Life program was also heart warming. The company encourages all their employees to find ways to help fight hunger in their local communities. Every year at this dinner, they recognize about 8 employees that they feel have really exemplified the strongest acts of giving. They shared the individual stories of these employees and the type of impact they have made on fighting hunger. It’s very humbling to hear what they were able to accomplish. The recipients were extremely proud and happy to accept the grants for their local charities.
During the presentation, they shared some incredible statistics; including one in every four children in America is at risk of hunger. I have three children of my own and everyday have at least four children in my home. The thought that one of them could go to bed hungry really made me stop and think. I walked away from this dinner with a huge appreciation for Sodexo and the Sodexo Foundation. I found myself proud to have Oneida Ltd. associated with such a company. I also wanted to find a way for Oneida to be involved in supporting this foundation and the individuals it helps everyday.
I helped put together a program that would not only contribute to the Sodexo Foundation, but would also build sales for Oneida. I presented to our upper management and they were immediately supportive of the idea. Oneida committed to donating 2% of sales from our luxury and fine dining products that were sold to Sodexo business units through Edward Don, our distributor. Our sales team, Edward Don’s sales team, and the Hunger Champion’s at Sodexo all did a great job communicating the program to help impact the results. All parties were pleased with the results of the first year of this program.
We are now very excited to kick off our second year of this program, and have moved up the date to start in September, Hunger Action Month. We are adding a social media component thru Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, we will add to our total donation, $1 for every new Oneida Ltd Fan from 9/12/11 – 10/12/11, with a goal of gaining 1,000 new fans. Fans can also donate directly to the Sodexo Foundation while on the Oneida Ltd Facebook page through a special app. Please help us make this 1,000 new fan goal a reality – click here!
Jim Schulze is senior vice president of sales for Oneida Global Foodservice.